MS plans error reporting tool for corporate users

Microsoft plans to offer corporate customers a version of its Dr Watson error reporting tool to help administrators pinpoint and solve software problems.

PC users can already send error reports to Microsoft via the Internet when an application crashes or other software trouble occurs. The information is collected at Microsoft and used to determine what needs to be done to solve the problem. The bug reports can result in a software update distributed via Windows Update.

"The idea is to extend Online Dr Watson and give the corporate software developer the ability to analyse issues in their applications so they can provide fixes," vice-president of Microsoft's security business unit, said Mike Nash, said during Microsoft's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) in New Orleans.

Microsoft refers to the product internally as Online Dr Watson.

In the case of an application crash, Dr. Watson logs what application caused the crash and what it was doing when it failed.

Dr Watson currently works with Windows and Office, and Microsoft is working to expand support to include all of its products. Corporate users would have to do some work to link custom applications to the reporting tool if they wantedx to use it for monitoring non-Microsoft applications, Nash said.

Additionally, Microsoft was looking to make available to corporate customers some of the tools it developed as part of its Trustworthy Computing initiative to root out vulnerabilities in its software code, Nash said. They included a tool that scanned code for constructions that were typically associated with a security vulnerability and recommends code changes.

As part of the security initiative, Microsoft last year halted the development work of thousands of software engineers while they scanned software for security holes.

The developer tools potentially could be delivered as part of Microsoft Visual Studio .Net package for developers, Nash said.

"It is our goal to extend trustworthiness beyond Microsoft products," Nash said.

Plans for corporate versions of Dr Watson and the code check tools were still in the early stages and no release schedule had been made public, Nash said.

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